Friday, August 1, 2008

The Perfect Gift

“My daughter was talking about your son just a couple of days back,” said the lady with whom I had a smiling acquaintance from the time we spent together waiting to pick up our respective children from their kindergarten class. “She told me your son’s moved to a different school, but I was not sure, since I have continued to see you around.”
“Actually, we’ve moved him from the afternoon shift to the morning one,” I clarified. “But I am amazed that your daughter actually remembers him and talks about him.” Though I knew the two of them hung around with the same group of people the previous year, I knew for a fact that my son had never mentioned her to me (or anyone else, for that matter).
“Oh yes, my daughter often talks of your son,” she told me. “When I couldn’t recognize his name, she told me it was the boy who had given her the plant for his birthday.”
“She still remembers the plant, does she?”, I head myself say as my memory transported me back nine months.

With my older son’s birthday fast approaching, I could not any longer put off thinking about the gift he would give the kids in his class. The stuff he brought home seemed to be going up in value almost everyday – what had started out with a pencil-eraser-sharpener-ruler combo had graduated to a set of Uno cards, water colours and painting books, and Disney pencil-box sets. I was not sure if I wanted either me or my son to be a part of all that.
It wasn’t just about the money – though it was also about the money – I just did see the point in spending so much on gifting yet another box of crayons that would get scattered even before it was opened. If a gift had to be given, I wanted it to be unique – something meaningful, something different, and something the kids would remember. But what could that Perfect Gift be?
The answer came to me quite suddenly, when I saw my older one diligently watering the plants one day – why not give the kids plants?
Some of the kids might be coming from houses that had plants, but how many really loved plants the way I did when I was a kid, or the way my older son does? Would not giving them a tiny flowering plant kindle some interest in the natural world? If even two children in the class of thirty developed a liking for plants after having one of their own to care for, it would be a great thing. The more I thought about it, the more perfect gifting a plant seemed.
The children were thrilled when their class teacher asked my son to show the class a plant, and told them that they would each get one to take home. They were studying plant life cycles that month, so balsam plants with buds jelled well with what they were learning in school. My son was happy because he had been able to give his friends something that was very close to his heart.

“Of course she does,” I heard her say. “She watered the plant for many months, and now that it has dried, she’s made me promise to buy her another plant that she can take care of.”
My purpose was served. My day was made. I know exactly what I am going to do this year for gifts.


Bubbly Bala said...

Wonderful feedback wasn't it? I don't think you quite expected it. If even a couple more had loved it the way this girl did it is going to make a great difference. My quiet and diffident grandchild is remembered for all the right reasons. Great.

Brown Eyed Girl said...

To be honest, I did not. I hoped that at least some of the kids may find it fun, but to know that someone looked after the plant for a few months was much more than I hoped for.

And of course, it felt good to know that my son's absence was noticed and he was missed.


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